- I quickly learned that the best results come from being prepared. Gather the shampoo, conditioning rinse (optional), and towels at the bath site. A deep sink or a tub will work best, as anything too shallow will encourage escapees! Prepare a draft-free drying area—perhaps the floor of a ferret-proofed bathroom—with a pile of absorbent towels or blankets that your fuzzy friend can burrow through. Clean his ears and trim his nails first, if needed, since those can be messy tasks. And finally, encourage the ferret to visit the litter box before heading to the bath.
- When running your ferret’s bath, make sure the water feels quite warm to you but is not scalding. Remember that your ferret’s normal body temperature is higher than yours; you want her to be comfortable.
- Oh no, not shampoo! But into every ferret life a little soap must come. Select either a shampoo made specifically for ferrets or a kitten-safe tearless shampoo. If your ferret seems comfortable standing on the non-slip mat, put a hand under her belly to support her spine while washing. Otherwise, drape her along your arm to support her body, letting her legs dangle on either side. Work the shampoo into her fur by rubbing against the direction of growth to get through that dense undercoat.
- Use a washcloth to safely scrub the ferret’s cheeks; the glands there secrete sebum, which may discolor the fur, and hormones in the sebum leave an odor. And don’t forget the tail!
- The bathwater may cool quickly, so try rinsing your ferret under running water to ensure warmth and a faster, easier rinse. Using a conditioning rinse may result in silkier-feeling fur for a while. Again, working the rinse into the dense fur is the key to a good result. Once she realizes the bath is over, your ferret will try to fly out of your arms like a damp rocket, so be quick with a towel for a brisk rub! Then let her loose in the drying area and sit back for a laugh. Expect a bottlebrush tail, chattered complaints, war dancing, frantic shaking, and a general blur of fur as your girl indignantly bounces off of everything in sight!
And here’s the most important tip: Don’t overbathe your ferret! For most ferrets, once every 3 months—or when getting into a mess demands it—is plenty. More frequent bathing may actually result in a stinky, itchy ferret. Washing strips the oils from fur and skin, causing the body to work overtime to replace them. Since the oils are what contain the light musky odor of a normal ferret, the smell may become stronger within a couple of days of bathing, then fade again. Better to be scrupulous about clean litter boxes and weekly changes of cloth bedding to keep your ferret fresh!